Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tilapia with farro, black rice, spinach and tangerines

There was a time (and what a time it was) ... the fridge was so covered with photos, art, coupons, school work and miscellaneous paper remnants - that finding the actual fridge was looking for Waldo. The dining room table housed pennies, cleaning solutions, cotton... pieces of sciences projects in various stages of analysis. Dinner was 1/3 protein, 1/3 vegetable, 1/3 carb. I had speed dinners down to a science.  We ate in the kitchen because to unpile the dining room table one needed to plan ahead and hire a crane.

It didn't snow in May.

Life shifted and a few years ago the dining room table became a table for dining (and we pile up the kitchen table with computers and fruit). Dinner is 2/3 vegetables, a lean protein and a bit of carbs (except on pasta nights - all bets are off).

And it snowed in May.

Life shifts and what I would have made for a growing family of 4 is not what I make today. (Unless the family of 4 is home with requests.)

I saw this Sea Bass with Tangerine Sauce and it suited my "bring spring into the kitchen because it's not happening outside" mood. Even with the rice and farro, there is a transitional lightness of being that suits our winter-in-spring. I changed the fish, changed the amounts and made a dinner for 8 into a dinner for two.

And it was lovely. And spring. And balanced. The original recipe from Zen Can Cook can be found here. It's a beauty. Flaky white fish studded with tangerine zest and thyme. It sits on a nutty bed of black rice and farro. Which sits on a bed of spinach. Adding color and spring. Halfway through dinner, husband looked up and said, "You can make this again." And then he went back to eating. And I shall make it again. Even though it uses every pot in the house. It's the different textures - from flaky to chewy to crunch to mellow. And then there's that bright sauce - sweet and tart - the tangerine sauce ties it all up in a citrus bow.

Black rice can be found in specialty Oriental and Italian groceries. I actually had some from a lovely meeting with Ciao Chow Linda last March in NYC where we dared to go into Eataly. (It's ... busy).

Tilapia with Farro, Black Rice, Spinach and Tangerines - 2 servings

2 boneless tilapia fillets (You judge - you might want more or less depending on individual taste)
2 tangeringes - zested and juiced (save some segments) - in hindsight - I'd another 1 or 2  for the sauce
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (I used more)

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 chopped white onion
1/4 cup farro
1/4 cup white wine
1-1/4 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped white onion
1/4 cup black rice
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces baby spinach
salt and pepper

FISH: Zest and juice your tangerines. Set aside the juice. Cover tilapia with tangerine zest and thyme. Put in a covered bowl and let rest in the fridge for 4 hours (I did 2 hours) or overnight.

To cook: After cooking the farro and rice, cook the fish - it comes together fast. Salt and pepper the fish. Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil on medium-high heat in medium skillet. Add fish and cook 3-4 minutes per side (adjust to your thickness). Keep in warm oven or on a warm plate.

Wipe out skillet. Add tangerine juice and sugar. Stir. Cook till reduced by 1/2. (This happens very fast!) Add butter. Stir. Finished.

FARRO: In a medium sauce pan, heat olive oil on medium-high. Add onion and saute 3-4 minutes till softened. Add farro and stir. Add wine and cook till most of it is gone. Add water. When it comes to a boil, cover and cook on low for 40 minutes or until water is gone and farro is soft and just a bit chewy. (Mine took 50 minutes.)

RICE: Basically the same thing. In (yes, another) medium sauce pan, heat olive oil. Add onion and cook till softened. Add rice and stir. Add wine and cook till almost gone. Add water, bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and cook for 40 minutes or so - until rice is tender and water is gone. (This also took me 50 minutes.)

In skillet that had fish, add a drop of olive oil. Add spinach. Salt and pepper. Cook until just wilted.

Combine farro and rice in one point. Salt and pepper to taste.

To plate: But down a bed of spinach, then the farro-rice combination. Top with the tilapia and drizzle with the juice.

I bought my first cookbook - in 16 months. (I am trying to curb my addiction.) Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. I know a lot of you know it - and I must say I am smitten. I will be seasonally cooking my way through it.

I am looking for others - vegetable-centric cookbooks for the coming months (the fields won't be covered with snow forever.... she says optimistically). If you have any suggestions... I am looking at Fresh and Natural Every Day, Smitten Kitchen, Jerusalem... mainly not Italian because - I need to sneak those into the house. Nobody here thinks I need another Italian cookbook.
Oh! That kitchen table piled with our computers and fruit - I should have mentioned that there is also a kitten. Watching my every stir. Look at those back paws! What class! Luce must be double-jointed.

Kirsten has a new kitten in her kitchen. She and Devon brought home a rescue cat. More than the ring, more than the search for a wedding venue - I think the adoption of a kitten is a sign of their commitment. Luna - because she is many colors of the night.


Ciao Chow Linda said...

Isn't it funny how we have all shifted to more vegetables and less protein and carbs (except pasta nights as you said). This meal looks delicious and your photos are enticing. I still have some of that black rice left from our visit too and I like the way you combined it with another grain. All by itself it's a little too bland or something. Hope spring arrives to Minn. before August! And yea for Luna. She's a beauty.

Proud Italian Cook said...

What a perfect dish Claudia for any time of year! Your pictures sold me from minute go!

Mary Bergfeld said...

What a lovely dish. I must say the kitten isn't bad either. Claudia, I'm not leaving the google reader, they are leaving us. The reader will be shut down on the 1st of July. Sad but true. Have a great evening. Blessings...Mary

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

We love all fish, but tilapia is one of our favorites because there is so much you can do with it. Love the oranges in this Claudia. Very spring like and balanced.


don't you miss those days Claudia, when the kids are all over the house. Those days when you pick up all the remnants of their homework and schoolwork. From broken crayons to cleaning up pencil dust, ahh I remember how I nagged them to clean up and now how I miss those days... THis post suddenly hit me. I MISS MY KIDS! But seasons change as you say, and it does... and sometimes it feels like it changes too fast, too often.

I haven't cooked farro yet but is on my to cook list. Well I love tilapia that's for sure... and the tangerines hmmm how I'm sure they brightened up the dish. Definitely spring in your plate!


Barbara F. said...

Wow, I love tilapia, actually I love every component of this fab dish, have to make it, I have never eaten farro! What the heck am I waiting for?? Never met a grain I didn't like. ;-) xo

Angie's Recipes said...

Meow, Luce Luna :-)
I had some pan seared tilapia for the dinner..but with some green asparagus. I love yours so much more with black rice and farro.

Gloria Baker said...

I love tilapia Claudia an this look wonderful"

Kitchen Riffs said...

I have to say the first thing I now think when I see an email that you have a new post is wondering what Luce is up to! Do keep the pictures coming - what an adorable kitty! And lovely recipe. Loads of flavor and just so nice. If you're looking for a veggie cookbook, one of my fave's is Bert Greene's Greene on Greens. Your library may have it, otherwise it's available used for very little.

That Girl said...

I feel like you're describing my fridge!!!!!!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Claudia, this looks divine! The Costco near me here sells black rice--it doesn't sell ricotta or bread crumbs, or a million other things I used to buy in NYC, but it sells black!

Your dining room table of the past sounds like my living room of the present as I now have frequent grandson visitors who have taken over much of my space, and what is left is full of baby things as I am watching my grand daughter during the day as my daughter went back to work. I have come a full circle and I'm loving it! Busy and exhausting days, but I'm loving it!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

PS: What is up with all this snow?? Will we ever have spring? I know we need the moisture here but I wouldn't mind!

ChgoJohn said...

I've seen the weather reports of snow in Minnesota and Wisconsin and shuddered. Unbelievable!
This meal is really a thing of beauty. Yes, you probably used every pot & pan in your kitchen but it definitely looks worth the effort. Well done!

Kathy said...

Claudia, This looks like a wonderfully delicious meal! The addition of farro must add a nice nuttiness to this dish. All these flavors sound amazing!
So sorry that your winter doesn’t want to leave. We have finally started to have some gorgeous days…hopefully you will see them soon!

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Your dinner looks like my ideal the tilapia and am just as huge a fan of farro! The hubby would probably pass out if I tried to serve this to him, but I have a few nights a month when he has dinner I can make this just for me :)

PS...thanks for your kind words of condolence. xo

Anonymous said...

Tilapia is such a great fish..always delicious and can be accompanied by such a variety of sides. Your dish looks so delicious, colourful and it should of course!
And life shifts through all our stages..sometimes it makes me sad to exit one stage, but there is always the excitement of the new adventure awaiting us!

Reeni said...

So bright and lovely! Perfect to help spring along and a reminder I don't cook enough fish even though I love it. Both kitties are so cute - love the new kitty's name!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That is one fabulous dish and combination! Mouthwatering.



Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina said...

Oh Claudia, when I heard about the snow in May this year, I thought "that's a first"! You truly deserve a wonderful spring and summer after this year's winter in Minnesota! Love this tilapia recipe, so incredibly fresh and colorful!

Happy Mother's Day!


Amy said...

LOL...lovely post. Your description of the fridge and the dining table sound very's the things that I have to deal with everyday! I always have quick and easy weeknight meals especially I have to keep the kids entertained and cook at the same time!

Anyway, I love your Tilapia recipe. It's one of my favorite fish to cook and to eat. It's so quick and always comes out delicious. Can't wait to try your recipe.